Y Combinator’s Summer 2011 Demo Day: The Definitive Debrief, Part 2
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Muzzammil Zaveri, Ethan Fast
There’s a downside to the fact that modern Web technologies allow so much code to be executed in the browser rather than on the original server: developers can’t see what’s happening, so they’ll never know when things are going wrong. Proxino uses proxy servers, intermediate servers between a Web server and an end user, to monitor code running on client machines and inform developers when errors occur. Proxino shows developers exactly where an “exception” or error occurred by highlighting the affected function in the code.
My take: Sounds like a great tool for small businesses and independent developers. This kind of thing is standard practice for Web giants like Google, and it’s time the techniques were available to the common programmer.
Jayant Kulkarni, Adam Regelmann
“The online marketplace for life science supplies.”
Quartzy’s founders are former biology researchers who know how ill-equipped most academic and commercial laboratories are to track and manage their inventory of supplies such as chemicals and antibodies. They’ve built a free online program that helps with this. But the software has a Trojan-horse aspect: it’s designed so that it can be converted into a marketplace where labs can also buy supplies. Some 5,000 researchers are using the system, including folks at places like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UCSF, and the NIH.
My take: It’s great to see companies like Quartzy and Science Exchange (see next listing) recognizing that business practices in the research world are ripe for disruption.
Dan Knox, Elizabeth Iorns, Ryan Abbott
“An online marketplace for outsourcing science experiments.”
Science Exchange is one of only two startups in the entire batch of 63 companies with a woman co-founder: Elizabeth Iorns, a former cancer biologist. The company notes that 20 percent of commercial scientific research is outsourced to contract research organizations with special equipment and expertise, but only 2 percent of academic research is ever outsourced; its hypothesis is that a lot more science would get outsourced if there were a convenient marketplace, preferably one integrated with university purchasing systems. That’s what Science Exchange is. Since coming out of private beta testing just a week ago, the company has signed up 1,000 researchers, who have outsourced $100,000 in services; the startup makes money by charging a commission on signed contracts.
My take: Academic research is a strange cross between high technology and medieval university politics. Any service that helps to modernize the process will benefit scientists, patients, and funding agencies, and (ultimately) taxpayers.
Michael Dwan, JP Ren
“Where you’ll keep all your photos.”
Cloud-based photo storage and sharing services like Flickr and Photobucket have been around for years, but most people never bother to upload their images, meaning they sit forever on personal computers, where they’re vulnerable to theft or disk failure. Snapjoy says it designed its new online photo storage system to be simple and easy to use—you still have to upload your photos, but Snapjoy automatically arranges them into groups by date. And it’s free for now, with no storage limit.
My take: I’m on the lookout for a new photo storage and sharing service, as my longtime favorite, Flickr, seems to be on the downswing. Snapjoy could be it, but so far the feature set is limited-it’s really just a place to back up your photos in the cloud, with the added ability to view them and share them with one person at a time.
Jason Chen, Byron Milligan
“Google Wave Done Right.”
Google Wave was a good idea executed badly, in the view of the Stypi founders. They’re building a system that brings the best aspects of Wave—namely, real-time collaboration on documents—back to life starting with a specific case, collaborative software coding. The startup’s home page is a document that anyone can edit. In the future the company hopes to support other kinds of collaborative work online, such as 3D modeling.
My take: Other companies have tried real-time collaborative document editing, but Stypi may win through its simplicity.